COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES
PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee considered the initial and second periodic reports of
the Czech Republic (CERD/C/289/Add.1) at its 1254th and 1255th meetings,
held on 6 and 9 March 1998, and adopted, at its 1270th meeting, held on
18 March 1998, the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee welcomes
the report submitted by the Government of the Czech Republic, which
generally complies with the reporting guidelines. The Committee noted
with appreciation the competent delegation which presented the report
and the frank and constructive approach that characterized the dialogue
with the delegation. The Committee also expresses its appreciation to
the State party's delegation for the additional information it provided
to the Committee both orally and in writing.
B. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention
3. It is recognized that
the economic, political and social changes that are still taking place
in the Czech Republic may effect the full enjoyment of economic, social
and cultural rights of some segments of the population, especially those
belonging to minority groups. It is further noted that the policy of
tolerance and openness towards minorities is relatively recent and is
being implemented progressively.
C. Positive aspects
4. The fact that, according
to article 10 of the Constitution, international instruments on human
rights and fundamental freedoms such as the Convention that are ratified,
promulgated and made effective by the State party are directly applicable
and take precedence over national legislation is welcomed.
5. It is noted that the
State party, especially since the adoption of the new Constitution in
1993, has taken a number of positive measures in the field of law reform
to combat various forms of racial discrimination which fall within the
areas covered by the Convention, including the Charter of Fundamental
Rights and Freedoms which, inter alia, contains provisions for
the protection of national and ethnic minorities. The introduction of
a definition of racially motivated crime and the prohibition of racist
organizations and publications in the Criminal Code, as well as the
ratification of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National
Minorities, are welcomed.
6. The recent initiatives
taken by the State party intended to prevent inter-ethnic conflicts,
including the teaching of children and adolescents and public awareness
campaigns promoting tolerance and openness towards ethnic minorities,
are noted with interest.
7. In this context, the
establishment of the Council of Nationalities in 1994 as a governmental
advisory body is noted with appreciation. The State party's recent steps
towards an affirmative action policy for the Roma community, including
the setting up of an Inter-Ministerial Commission and measures taken
within the fields of education and employment, are welcomed. The continuing
growth in the number of non-governmental organizations, including associations
of minorities, is also viewed positively.
D. Principal subjects of concern
8. Concern is expressed
at the persistence of racial hatred and acts of violence, particularly
by skinheads and others, towards persons belonging to minority groups,
especially Roma and people of African or Asian origin. Reports of anti-Semitic
incidents are a further source of concern. The recorded six-fold increase
in racially motivated crimes between 1994 and 1996 is also noted with
alarm. Additional sources of concern are the presence of a number of
organizations and publications which promote racist and xenophobic ideas,
and reports that the State party has not been sufficiently active in
effectively countering racial violence against members of minority groups.
9. Concern is expressed
at information indicating that the number of charges and convictions,
including those of skinheads, is low relative to the number of abuses
reported. It is also noted with concern that perpetrators of racial
crime are often lightly punished and that, in a number of cases, prosecutors
have been reluctant to identify a racial motive. Moreover, in the light
of evidence of unnecessarily long proceedings and slow investigations
of acts of racial crime, concern is raised about judicial effectiveness
in this respect.
10. Taking into account
reports of cases of harassment and of excessive use of force by the
police against minorities, especially against members of the Roma community,
concern is raised that there may be insufficient training provided to
law enforcement officials regarding the provisions of the Convention.
11. It is also noted with
concern that a political party represented in Parliament promotes racial
discrimination and disseminates a magazine which promotes racist propaganda
and ideas of racial superiority aimed at the ethnic minorities resident
in the country.
12. In light of reports
indicating discrimination against Roma in areas such as housing, transport
and employment, it is noted with concern that the State party does not
have civil or administrative law provisions expressly outlawing discrimination
in employment, education, housing and health care and that there exists
no administrative regulation explicitly prohibiting racial discrimination
by public institutions and agencies. The denial of access to public
places such as restaurants, pubs, discotheques and similar establishments
by persons belonging to some ethnic minorities, especially Roma, is
also noted with concern.
13. The marginalization
of the Roma community in the field of education is noted with concern.
Evidence that a disproportionately large number of Roma children are
placed in special schools, leading to de facto racial segregation, and
that they also have a considerably lower level of participation in secondary
and higher education, raises doubts about whether article 5 of the Convention
is being fully implemented.
14. It is noted that the
1993 law on the acquisition of Czech citizenship (Law No. 40/1990) has
resulted in widespread criticism from a number of international institutions
and non-governmental organizations for its discriminatory effects, especially
vis-à-vis Roma. While it is noted that the State party has taken steps
to mitigate the negative consequences of the law, it is stressed that
the act of rendering people stateless entails the deprivation of fundamental
rights linked to citizenship, as well as exposing them to the risk of
expulsion. Concern is expressed that there remain groups of the population
for whom the question of citizenship has not yet been addressed in a
satisfactory manner. These include prisoners, and minors and orphans
in children's homes, many of whom are of Roma origin.
15. Doubts were raised whether
the provisions of the State party's Criminal Code is conducive to the
full implementation of article 3 of the Convention as it stipulates
a state of war for the applicability of section 263 (a).
E. Suggestions and recommendations
16. The Committee recommends
that the State party continue its efforts to prevent and counter effectively
attitudes and acts of racial violence against persons belonging to minority
groups, mainly Roma, and persons of African or Asian origin, and take
additional measures to ensure an effective and timely handling of court
cases of racially motivated crime and punishment of the perpetrators.
17. The Committee also recommends
that the State party give more attention to the activities of political
parties and other organizations, as well as to media promoting racist
propaganda and ideas of racial superiority, in accordance with article
4 of the Convention.
18. The Committee recommends
that the State party provide, in its next report, more specific statistical
data on minority representation in local, regional and State administrations
as well as information on their situation in the fields of education,
employment and health. The Committee would also welcome more data on
minorities' political, economic and cultural rights. Information is
also requested concerning the proportions of ethnic minority groups
and aliens residing in the country.
19. The Committee recommends
that increased attention be paid to introducing legal provisions aimed
at safeguarding the enjoyment on a non-discriminatory basis, by all
segments of the population, of the economic, of social and cultural
rights listed in article 5 of the Convention, notably, the rights to
work, housing, education, and access to services and places open to
the general public.
20. The Committee suggests
that the State party, in its next report, endeavour to provide more
specific information on the implementation of the Convention and of
national laws in practice, especially relating to articles 5 and 6 of
21. In connection with article
7 of the Convention, the Committee would welcome information on the
effectiveness of teaching and public awareness campaigns intended to
prevent racial discrimination and increase tolerance.
22. The Committee requests
that the State party provide, in its next report, comprehensive information
on the results of the affirmative action measures that have been taken
for the Roma community, in particular in the fields of education, employment
23. The Committee also urges
the State party to resolve the remaining problems relating to the acquisition
of Czech citizenship by all residents, including prisoners and children
and adolescents in institutions, in particular members of the Roma minority.
24. It is suggested that
the State party consider providing increased education and training
on racial tolerance and human rights issues to professional groups such
as judges, lawyers and civil servants so as to eliminate any cases of
harassment or improper conduct in relation to persons belonging to minorities.
25. The Committee suggests
that further action be taken to ensure that the provisions of the Convention
are more widely publicized, particularly among minority groups, government
officials and the police. In addition, the State party should ensure
the wide dissemination of its report and the concluding observations
of the Committee.
26. The Committee recommends
that the State party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6,
of the Convention, adopted on 15 January 1992 at the Fourteenth Meeting
of States Parties to the Convention.
27. It is noted that the
State party has not made the declaration provided for in article 14
of the Convention, and some members of the Committee request that the
possibility of such a declaration be considered.
28. The Committee recommends
that the State party's next periodic report, due on 22 February 1998,
be an updating report and that it address all the points raised in the